Arsenal departed London on Thursday as they are set to begin their preseason tour of the U.S. next week. There was, however, one notable player that was not on that plane to the States: Laurent Koscielny. The 33-year-old captain of the Gunners apparently refused to travel with his teammates.
The club confirmed this in a statement posted on their official website. “Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel to the US for our preseason tour,” read the statement. “We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions. We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.”
Certainly shocking to the club and fans, Koscielny’s decision is both embarrassing and strange. It is not a good look at all for a player that has been with the team for nine seasons to refuse to join his teammates for preseason matches. As captain, this decision is downright embarrassing to everyone involved in the club, including Koscielny himself. This is also a strange move considering his perceived relationship with the Gunners.
It was widely reported that Koscielny has previously rejected moves to bigger clubs such as Barcelona in the past. The defender addressed these links with Barca during an interview with L’Equipe in 2012. “Yes of course and frankly it is flattering,” Koscielny said of Barca’s interest. “But at Arsenal I have everything; I have a great training centre, a wonderful stadium and an amazing group.”
The Frenchman even went on to claim that he would like to follow in the footsteps of other French legends at the club. “I really want to grow [at Arsenal] as Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, and some others did,” said the center back.
Koscielny has one year remaining on his current contract, which means that another team most likely must pay a transfer fee for his services. Following his refusal to join his teammates, it has been reported that the player wants to return to play in France and expects Arsenal to let him go for free. Rennes is thought to be interested in Koscielny and personal terms are already supposedly agreed with the defender.
Sad, confusing, and disappointing, it seems likely that this will be how the Koscielny story ends at Arsenal. Once highly-regarded and thought of as the greatest center back of the Emirates Era at the club, Koscielny will now most likely leave as an unpopular figure. Arsenal have dealt with similar issues regarding captains in recent memory, but no one expected Koscielny to take the execrable exit away from the Emirates.